The Good Fight recap: 'Day 436'
The Good Fight took on the #MeToo movement in this Sunday’s episode, which isn’t surprising if you’re a regular viewer. The wave of horrific allegations of sexual misconduct leveled against celebrities and other public figures in the past few months seemed like it was waiting for Robert and Michelle King to tackle, and they didn’t disappoint. In fact, the episode exceeded expectations because it not only touched on the issue from the most obvious angle — a celebrity accused of sexual assault — it also used the opportunity to explore the subtler, more insidious ways men’s behavior and whims can adversely affect women. As always, it was fascinating and unflinching, and didn’t go for easy answers.
When the episode begins, Diane is stoically flipping through channels in bed, trying and failing to find some non-Trump-related programming. Even animated kids’ shows and QVC aren’t safe from him. Honestly, this might be the most relatable thing we’ve ever seen Diane do on this series so far because Trump fatigue is real. Luckily for her, Adrian provides a reprieve with a new case: A beloved action star, Kip Dunning, is threatening to sue the network the firm represents if it runs an exposé on sexual assault allegations against him. The clock’s ticking as Diane and Adrian meet with the actor’s lawyer, Burl Preston (F. Murray Abraham, reprising his role from The Good Wife), and defend the story against the defamation charges.
“Day 436” is very reminiscent of The Good Wife season 2 episode “VIP Treatment.” In that installment, Alicia, Will, and Diane race against the clock to decide whether to accept the case of a massage therapist who’s accusing a prominent Democrat of unwanted sexual misconduct. They’re forced to investigate the victim to see if her story holds up, which disgusts Diane, who hates having to question the integrity of an assault victim. In “Day 436,” Diane and the firm have already accepted the network’s case, but they still have to analyze the story and question the two accusers, one of whom is choosing to stay anonymous, in order to make sure the assault is real and not an alt-right attempt to bring a down a liberal actor. Furthermore, both episodes have a race-against-time, bottle-episode feel to them since most of the action takes place in the law firm. “Day 436” also references “VIP Treatment” when Diane finds out that a client murdered Wilk Hobson (Frederick Weller), the douchey, greasy lawyer Will punched in that episode. I always loved The Good Wife’s long memory and penchant for referencing past events, and I’m glad that hasn’t changed on The Good Fight.
As the firm unpacks the network’s story, Adrian is also forced to confront his past and consider whether he acted with impropriety when he was a guest lecturer at a law school. It turns out that Naomi, the journalist who reported the exposé, was one of his students; however, she gave up trying to become a lawyer because Adrian’s favorable treatment of Liz Reddick, his future ex-wife, broke her spirit.
“You spent that whole class smothering Liz with affection, and I get it, you had a crush,” says Naomi. “But there were a lot of women in that class who were smart and capable, and they left the lesser.”
It’s a powerful scene and storyline because it dives headfirst into the uncomfortable gray area of the current conversation about sexual harassment and gender inequality in the workplace, and offers a fascinating parallel with the case. Kip Dunning is a powerful man who knowingly used his status to commit crimes against women. Adrian is powerful too, but here he’s unaware of the ways in which his desires could lead him to unintentionally use his power in a negative way, since he had the privilege of never actually having to think about it. Adrian spends most of the episode trying to convince Naomi (but mostly himself) that he didn’t do anything wrong, but that illusion is almost shattered when Liz points out that he did indeed show her favoritism because he wanted to sleep with her. Adrian may not have noticed, but everyone else did. (Next: An awkward proposal)
The Good Fight doesn’t attempt to give any easy answers to Adrian’s story. By the end of the episode, he tells Naomi that he hired Liz for the internship because of her prestigious last name. “Not sexual bias, just star f—ing,” says Naomi, who absolves him of his past transgressions, or at least appears to. There’s an ambiguity to the scene. The camera lingers on Naomi, whose face turns cold and hard as Adrian walks away. Does Naomi actually buy that reasoning? Moreover, does Adrian actually believe that’s the only reason he showed Liz favoritism? There’s something unconvincing about his delivery, and there’s the fact that we didn’t actually see how he worked through everything to arrive at this conclusion. Also, why didn’t he just say this before when Naomi brought it up? Either way, his answer is not exactly comforting.
The case of the week, however, does end on a more definitive note. As Diane and her team continue working on the case, they must also investigate the network’s in-house counsel, Carter, who keeps undercutting them in the meeting. Eventually, they discover that Carter was trying to stop the exposé from airing because he wrote a movie he wanted Kip to star in. The twist isn’t terribly convincing, but that’s a small complaint. The network president fires Carter and decides to air the exposé. Preston responds with a defamation lawsuit, and the firm is more than willing to take that to court, believing the story holds up.
While all this is going on at the firm, Maia and Lucca go on mandatory and separate ride-alongs with Chicago police. In some ways, Maia has the most exciting night. It begins with a car chase, and from there Maia briefly reunites with a woman who was in jail with her and collects video of the two cops being unnecessarily rough with a black man. When she and the cops stumble on a dead body, she captures video of the two cops taking jewelry from the deceased’s place, and she believes this is a sign they’re dirty. However, it turns out the victim was a retired police officer and they were taking the jewelry to hide it from his wife because the jewelry was for another woman, and they didn’t want to ruin the wife’s memory of him.
Lucca’s ride-along doesn’t include any dead bodies, but it’s also eventful. Her cops pick up Colin’s mother, Francesca (the ever-delightful Andrea Martin), for drunk driving. Lucca calls Colin about the situation, which leads to the two lovers reuniting at the precinct. Having spent time with his mother all night, Lucca decides to tell Colin about the pregnancy. He’s obviously stunned, but determined to step up. He impulsively asks Lucca to marry him, but Lucca rejects his proposal.
- Tim Matheson, a.k.a. the man Diane hooked up with last week, calls her to arrange another hookup, but Diane says no. However, she does pay his bail after he’s arrested at a protest.
- Tonight in weird Good Fight details: Diana witnesses two people spanking each other and dancing around in Trump masks. Neither Diane nor I needed that image our brains.
- Speaking of details: I love how you could see unopened boxes of alcohol in the firm in several shots, which is a subtle reminder of last week’s poorly attended party.